Service of Say What? Inadvertent Impressions Businesses Make

July 12th, 2018

Categories: Actors, Advertising, Automobiles, Commercials, Driving, Marketing

It’s not hard to find businesses that mean well but do their customers or themselves little good with their marketing efforts.

The Grass is Greener….

I couldn’t stop the car last weekend to snap a shot of a scruffy looking property with a small sign on the remarkably unkempt grass that promoted a lawn care business. Made me sad for the business.

Divorce Auction Style

A postcard advertising a “Divorce Liquidation Auction” would have done well to omit the words “Have Fun.” “Fun” didn’t go with the headline that indicated that two people had to sell their belongings due to an unfortunate situation. On the reverse side of the card we read that the couple had been married 20 years and had travelled a lot. I know: I’m thin-skinned, but when I saw the card I envisioned vultures circling a carcass looking for spoils. Not fun.

Warning: Read But Don’t Look

Our 2018 Malibu flashed a warning on the dashboard screen. I took my eyes off the road to see that it said “Taking your eyes off the road too long or too often could cause a crash resulting in injury or death to you or others. Focus your attention on driving.” Struck me funny.

I have driven the car since May, and find that the over-sensitive screen is a dangerous distraction as well. I barely touch it and something changes—like my favorite radio stations. I end up with links to three of the same instead of the selection I’d originally made.

I’ve given up using the address book transferred to the car from my mobile phone. As I scroll through the names with my finger touching the screen as gently as possible, I must press too hard because I mistakenly call two to three people before tapping the person/number I want to call.

I’m also fearful that General Motors and probably the world now have all the phone numbers of everyone I know or knew.


Actor Sofia Vergara plays Gloria Pritchett on the TV sitcom “Modern Family” on ABC and also stars in Head & Shoulders shampoo commercials with her son Manolo and other family members. I like that she gets Proctor & Gamble to include her relatives but the twist in the current commercial is mean. Vergara exclaims how soft Manolo’s hair is, runs to wash hers and then shoves herself on to his chair and takes over. A mom that steals a scene from her kid: Not funny and gives the wrong impression. And I don’t think Vergara is a nasty person.

What marketing slipups or miscommunications have you noticed lately?

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6 Responses to “Service of Say What? Inadvertent Impressions Businesses Make”

  1. ASK Said:

    One reason I continue to drive a 2001 car: I am afraid of too much tech…I don’t like the beeps telling me I am too close to whatever it is I should avoid, the illustrated parking lines onscreen that are really out of proportion, and other features of computerized driving…Mercifully my senses are still intact and I find the noise and video distracting. I agree with you about the Vergara family commercial…Vergara may not be nasty, but she seems to have an ego that’s bigger than the proverbial house: the commercial only adds to that impression. After reading the list of items in that auction, I am wondering why they didn’t stay together!

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I have asked you before: Have you thought of writing comedy? I’m giggling especially about your reaction to the divorce liquidation auction.

    We have the least tech-savvy car. We don’t beep. I actually don’t mind not having a key to open the car door when my hands are full. As long as the fob is in my handbag or in Homer’s pocket, we can unlock the door or trunk without fishing around for the key.

    I am a radioholic and found it easier and faster to switch stations while driving the old fashioned way. I guess I’ll get used to the screen system just about the time I need to turn the car in to lease another one.

    I feel vindicated that you agree with me about this Vergara commercial. After she feels her son’s soft hair he holds a bottle of shampoo which she yanks out of his hands. They are pressed for time in the brief commercial but still….

  3. Protius Said:

    Your writing about your new Malibu touched a soft spot.

    Admittedly, I have never been particularly enthusiastic about having to drive automobiles, but the latest models, with all their gadgetry, from self-starting cars, to keyless doors to unexpected voices which seem either to be trying to sell you something, or threatening you if you don’t know to push or pull this button or that, or with other things I don’t understand, are positively scary.

    If they want to improve their product, why don’t they build a car which goes slower, uses less gas, isn’t cluttered up with a bunch of gadgets we don’t need or want, and last, but not least, costs less?

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Funny you mention cars costing less. Goodness knows what the tariffs will do to their price tags. Those enamored of foreign cars may be forced to buy American and if there becomes a shortage, up goes those prices too.

    This administration isn’t the least bit interested in the environment or the poor and middle class. There goes you wish for initiatives to reward cars that use less gas which would be good for all.

    As for gadgets, a good friend is a car person. He always buys top of the line cars and works in the industry. He admitted that he still hasn’t figured out how to do a whole bunch of things on his current vehicles such as program radio station favorites. If HE can’t figure it out…..

    YEARS ago there was a segment on either 60 Minutes or CBS News Sunday Morning. The reporter complained that you’d need a degree from MIT to figure out how to operate many of the new things on the market in the day. The gizmos have changed but in large part, this still holds true!

  5. Lucrezia Said:

    Some advertisers take members of the public to be so stupid, that it’s hard to tell the difference between talking down to potential buyers, or making error(s) inspired by human failure. Anything’s possible.

  6. jmbyington Said:


    I think that some politicians also think we are dumb as dirt and in fact some of us are! But your original point of view makes a lot of sense.

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